Rating:
8.0
Hollenthon - Opus Magnum
30 May 2008


01. On The Wings Of A Dove
02. To Fabled Lands
03. Son Of Perdition
04. Ars Moriendi
05. Once We Were Kings
06. Of Splendid Worlds
07. Dying Embers
08. Misterium Babel
09. The Bazaar [The Tea Party cover] [bonus]
+ Son Of Perdition [video]


Have you ever had that feeling that you are afraid to be let down by something you have been looking forward to for a very long time? Well, that happened to me when I got the advance copy of Hollenthon's latest album in my hands. Seven long years have I yearned for it.

Hollenthon have always been a band to surprise the hell out of the metal communtiy with their releases. Their 1999 Domus Mundi debut blew us away with its myriad of ethnic influences and 2001's With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell let go of the ethnicity and just grabbed me by the balls with its sheer orchestral bombast.

So what does Opus Magnum hold in store for us? Will it truly be their Opus Magnum? They had seven years to work on it. Will those seven years have been of the biblical lean variety or have been seven rich ones? After about 1,000 spins I am still not 100% sure what it is. But it is a bit disappointing nonetheless.

Hollethon, disappointing? I hear the masses yell out. Off with his head... Yes, disappointing (at least it was for me). I was expecting something entirely unique once again, but what we got here is some sort of compromise between Domus Mundi and With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell, but even slicker sounding than With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell. It's almost as if, dare I say it?, Hollenthon is trying to market the masses. Somehow it's not only the sound of the album that is more accessible but also the songs. It is still Hollenthon through and through and immediately recognisable from the first note of opener On The Wings Of A Dove through to the very last note of Misterium Babel.

Let's not focus on the disappointment of this old man. It's still the music that has to do all the talking, right? Well, let me assure you that Opus Magnum still has bands such as Therion and Haggard running straight for their mommies crying. Now, this is how orchestral metal should sound like. It should have a natural flow to it with both the orchestrated and non-orchestrated parts in balance. And that's what the listener will get a perfectly balanced accessible slab of orchestral melodic death metal with some ethnic influences.

On The Wings Of A Dove kicks off with that unmistakeable Hollenthon sound, full of bombast trying to overwhelm the listener with its crystal clear production and layer upon layer of instrumentation. At times seeming to speed up only to hold back in pace and then on again, but never reaching that much anticipated climax. It's like a long session of sex that just seems to go somewhere unexpected but all of a sudden ends due to the cat that snuck in and decided to snuggle herself in between the two of you. To Fabled Lands brings actually more of the same, once again holding no surprises. Nicely built up and very adequately played, but where the hell is that sucker punch you had come to expect from Hollenthon, where is that uppercut, that hook? Or is that the what these Austrians are striving for? Fooling around with the experienced fan of theirs. Well, if that was their goal, then they have succeeded. This procedure is followed for almost the entire duration of the album. Orchestrated metal that nestles itself in the listener's head not let go anymore, but, alas, without any surprises. That is until the first tones of Once We Were Kings, which actually promises that adventure I had been seeking. But, damn, again the cat creeps into the bedroom. Aah the tempo is upped during Of Splendid Worlds but already climaxes after about one minute. What have we here? A ballad? Pfew that was a close shave, only Dying Embers' first forty seconds reeked of balladesque hinterland. But once again it evolves into the typical bombastic style we have now grown so used to. 38 minutes gone, and not a single surprise yet. By now I have given up all hope of surprises, so I just sit back to let the final eight minutes of Misterium Babel envelop me by means of the most perfect production I have heard in years.

Damn, hey, oriental chanting, what the...? I start jumping of joy in my bedroom shouting Domus Mundi, Domus Mundi, Domus Mundi. But, please wait first since they have put me on the wrong foot a couple of times already on Opus Magnum. But, no, really, this is eight minutes of sheer bliss. What a built up, what an execution, there's finally actually some spite and venom Martin's vocal delivery. They have saved the best for last. Thank God.

So, all in all it is safe to conclude that this has not turned out to be Hollenthon's Opus Magnum but a very well executed safe and, dare I say it? commercial album. But even a commercial album such as this easily outruns competitors such as the earlier mention Therion and Haggard. But was it worth the seven year long draught? Unfortunately not.
Just on the basis of its perfect production and flawless execution and prize winner Misterium Babel does this album manage to scrape in an 8/10. But, guys, next time, if you deliver another piece of work such as this that holds next to none surprises I will be harsher with my grading.

It is safe to conclude that people who are unfamiliar with Hollethon would do wise by getting Opus Magnum as their first album by these Austrians and then to work their way back through the catalogue. As for die hard fans? Pick it up, enjoy it on its merits, but, alas, not such a classic as Domus Mundi and With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 10


Band profile: Hollenthon
Album: Opus Magnum


 


written by Ozman | 06.06.2008



Comments

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Ozman - 06.06.2008 at 03:13  
Sorry for the shit long review. But IMO this album for once merited such a long one. I hope you guys and gals take the time to read it and aren't hindered by the attention span of a drunken drosophila melanogaster.
Talvi - 06.06.2008 at 03:22  
Amazing review, even though I'll begin with their 2001 album because I have it ordered already. Hope it turns to be as awesome as you say.
Richard - 06.06.2008 at 05:11  
I like the bit about the cat interrupting the sex session!

Do they still use samples, or are the chanting and orchestral parts for 'real' this time?
Ozman - 06.06.2008 at 14:16  
Written by Richard on 06.06.2008 at 05:11

I like the bit about the cat interrupting the sex session!

Do they still use samples, or are the chanting and orchestral parts for 'real' this time?


As far as I know the chanting and orchestral parts are real on the album, at least it sounds natural... but there was no info on that on the promosheet.
Live they use samples, of that I am 100% sure.
K†ulu - 06.06.2008 at 21:48  
Have just finished listening this piece. Not bad, pretty original. If this is not their best, then I think I will enjoy the other two albums. Agree as fas as the rating... 8 is fair.
dancingdecember - 07.06.2008 at 22:39  
Written by Ozman on 06.06.2008 at 03:13

Sorry for the shit long review. But IMO this album for once merited such a long one. I hope you guys and gals take the time to read it and aren't hindered by the attention span of a drunken drosophila melanogaster.


well maybe if you used some PARAGRAPHS
Stigmatized - 07.06.2008 at 23:18  
First album I've heard from these guys, and was very impressed. I acquired their other released and they are great as well. This goes on my to buy list for sure.
Ozman - 07.06.2008 at 23:25  
Written by dancingdecember on 07.06.2008 at 22:39

Written by Ozman on 06.06.2008 at 03:13

Sorry for the shit long review. But IMO this album for once merited such a long one. I hope you guys and gals take the time to read it and aren't hindered by the attention span of a drunken drosophila melanogaster.


well maybe if you used some PARAGRAPHS


I did use paragraphs, but the ident is at the end of the paragraph...
dancingdecember - 07.06.2008 at 23:51  
Written by Ozman on 07.06.2008 at 23:25

Written by dancingdecember on 07.06.2008 at 22:39

Written by Ozman on 06.06.2008 at 03:13

Sorry for the shit long review. But IMO this album for once merited such a long one. I hope you guys and gals take the time to read it and aren't hindered by the attention span of a drunken drosophila melanogaster.


well maybe if you used some PARAGRAPHS


I did use paragraphs, but the ident is at the end of the paragraph...



sorry i didnt understand what you meant by "ident is at the end of the paragraph"

i didnt see any paragraphs at first but then there they were,so you edited it or i missed it ? :S

anyways now its easier on the eyes
HardSide - 14.06.2008 at 22:39  
if you take out the lyrics, the first song sounds like "madness of the crowds" by helloween.
Daggon - 10.02.2009 at 05:11  
I listened to this album many times and I found it almost as good as "With Vilest Of Worms To Dwell". What I want to say is that Hollenthon are consequent with their albums, with three albums they do not have a bad one, each record is great in its own way. I would give it a higher rating but still the review is great! Thanks Marcel.
Paradox0 - 22.02.2009 at 20:32  
You took the words of my head (except for the entire disruptive sex cat thing). Interesting but really just lacks that surprising punch it needs. Kind of like the opposite of Septic Flesh's "Communion" really, where it had that nice punch in each song but lacked anything else really outside of the one gimmick in the song.
3rdWorldFuckface - 05.12.2011 at 03:52  
Its suffice to say that i was blown away by this album, my first experience with hollenthon. Surely gonna get to the first two records after reading this review. I m surprised that someone can b disappointed by this record. But it makes sense... GODDAMN!! if i had read this review b4 listening to the album, i wud've stopped it ... went back.... listen to their first 2 records and then come here... but now this record is set as the prototype Hollenthon style in my mind. I still hope i get the surprise factor, the sucker punch thing ....

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